Jabs Traded, Slugfest Ends: Harris Discontinues Fight Against MAPS

After sparring for several weeks, Internet-based market research firm Harris Interactive voluntarily discontinued a federal court action against the Mail Abuse Prevention System and various ISPs on Monday.

Dan Hucko, vice president of marketing for Harris, says the decision to resolve the out of court battle was based in part on recent resolutions with AOL and Microsoft Corp.

“AOL and Microsoft were the biggest blockers of us, and so when the blocks were resolved and our mail was let go it took us to 98.3 percent of our 6.6 million people in our panel,” says Hucko. “When we accomplished that we decided it was in the best interest of the company and our shareholders to voluntarily discontinue litigation.”

In August, MAPS won the first round of its high stakes legal battle with Harris when a federal judge tossed out the request by the market research firm for a temporary restraining order that would have forced MAPS to stop blocking e-mails to users on more than a dozen ISPs. MAPS is a not-for-profit company that tracks and blocks unsolicited e-mails.

Harris sued AOL, Microsoft’s Hotmail, Qwest and 10 other ISPs that use MAPS’ technology. The complaint alleged “unfair and arbitrary” attempts to block its online market research.

When AOL announced it had ditched the MAPS software that started the dispute Harris immediately withdrew the suit against the portal. MAPS maintains several databases which companies such as Microsoft Hotmail use to help them manage the Internet e-mail traffic which crosses their networks.

Kelly Thompson, a MAPS project manager, confirmed that Harris had dropped the suit. Thompson previously scoffed at the lawsuit, calling it “insane”.

“They are trying to take away Microsoft’s and AOL’s rights to do business with whomever they want, and trying to force all of us to let them send unsolicited traffic across our networks. When Harris pollsters come to my door, will they also file suit to force me to invite them in?”

Apparently that door has closed and all players have gone home.

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